The Image of God: The impact
We head to George Washington’s house for a concrete take on a big philosophical concept.
SIMON SMART: This grand old house is a source of great national pride for the citizens of the United States.
Not so much because of its size and architectural beauty, or because it’s the best example of a Virginia Plantation House.
It’s valuable, priceless actually, simply because of who owned it.
This is Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, the first president and founding father of the United States of America.
The American people have decided Mount Vernon is precious because of its connection with Washington.
Frankly, even if this was a one-bedroom shack, they’d still value it.
Similarly, in the West, people came to value each and every human life because of our connection with God – the idea that we’re made in his image.
Philosophers have tried to find the grounding for human rights and often end up on capacity arguments – a person is defined by their ability to think rationally or be useful. But the moment you consider someone without that capacity, their value drops away, and the argument fails.
But Christianity looked at people and saw something radically different.
It insists that because you’re made in the image of God, you are of infinite and irreducible worth, regardless of capacity.
It’s this universal dignity that grounds the human rights we value so highly today.